SIGNAGE IN PONTYPOOL: I was recently invited to a meeting of the Pontypool Regeneration Partnership Steering Group Forum, in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre.

The main items on the agenda were an update on the project agreed for 2007/2008 and the project for 2008/2009.

There was goodly attendance and a number of suggestions were made and discussed by everyone. One of the items that was agreed to be taken on-board was to improve the signposting in the town centre.

The other day I made a sort of pilgrimage through Pontypool. to have a look to see what I thought was necessary to improve people's ability to find their way around.

I really think that the workmen will have to take down a lot of obsolete signs before they start to put up new ones.

All through town there are huge signs warning of the rising bollards in operation. As everyone knows, they have never worked anyway.

As I remember it, they were supposed to be activated by a sensor on the local buses, not allowing any other vehicles through, but that never worked either.

Now, of course, the buses have been re-routed around the police station, so there is no need for them at all.

Visitors to the town must find it very odd if they keep on looking for these bollards, and of course the main road goes down towards the town bridge anyway.

I could not find any clear direction to the indoor market (which needs as much advertising as it can get.) The one that intrigued me most of all was a notice on the Barclay's Bank building, saying that the Freehold Was for Sale by Auction', but that the business would not be affected.

I wondered whether the credit crunch' was having its effect on the big banks, and as a result, they were having to realise some of their assets.

However, the most comical one I found was in Park Road by those very congested bus stops. It said, in English and Welsh, that the Crane Street car park would be closed from January 5, 2004.

Whilst there I visited the outdoor market, which seems to be flourishing. But I, and obviously many others, found those horrible cobble stones difficult to walk on.

I should hate to think what it would have been like if they had been wet.

I think that the council owe it to those traders who are willing to come to Pontypool to rip up those things, and replace them with a flat surface.

WEEKLY MEETINGS AT ST JAMES' HALL: Every Wednesday, a number of worshippers gather in St James' Hall in the middle of Pontypool at 10am for a religious service, under the guidance of the ministers of St Cadoc's Church in Trevethin.

It is a convenient opportunity to practice their faith for members who find it difficult to get up to the main church.

While the upstairs of the hall remains in daily use with the children, these weekly meetings are the only use that is made of the bottom floor.

There has been increasing concern that they would not be allowed to continue to use it, but Canon Brian Pippen recently told everyone that it is going to remain open.

There is no lease and no licence on the hall, but the Park Estate are happy to allow the Wednesday Eucharist to continue, on condition that they pay the electricity and water bills and undertake the duty of keeping it clean.

Apparently, the Benefice is very happy with the Wednesday attendance and would to keep it going.

THE POOR STATE OF THE BUILDING: Unfortunately, the general appearance of the outside of the hall leaves a lot to be desired, and no one seems to be responsible for seeing to it.

The forecourt is littered with rubbish, the gate is thrown on the ground and there are weeds and young trees flourishing there. The lichen on the ground makes the entrance treacherous to walk on, particularly when it is wet.

It really is an eyesore for people entering the town, and as no one seems to be responsible for caring for it, the condition just gets worse as time goes by.

To make the area look even more decrepit there is scaffolding on the nearest part of St James' Church.

Like the Civic Centre, it looks as though the scaffolding is erected and then nothing else happens.

THE LINDEN SINGERS: Since I have been writing for Grassroots, one of my most consistent contributors has been Lydia Clarke, with news of the Linden Singers.

Her reports were particularly welcome, as she had no computer and always sent them in handwritten letters.

I have just been told by her successor, Andrea Evans, that Lydia has decided to retire as secretary after 11years in the job.

The ladies thanked her for doing a great job and made a presentation to her. Fortunately, she will be able to continue to be an active member of the choir.

I would like to extend my personal thanks to Lydia for all the copy that she has supplied me with for over almost the eight years that I have been writing for the Argus.

The first concert that Andrea mentioned was the lovely evening which we spent in the Memorial Hall in Newbridge, when they shared the stage with the Cwmbran Male Voice Choir.

This was staged to raise money for St David's Foundation, and she promised to let me know how much money has been raised once it has all come in.

The next concert that they will take part in is to be held at St Julian's Church in Newport, when they will appear with the Gwent Police Choir, in aid of the Breast Cancer Fund.

This will take place on Saturday, April 5, starting at 7pm and tickets are £6 each. Andrea thinks that it should turn out to be an enjoyable evening.

For the weekend of May 9 to 12, the ladies will be holidaying in Looe, in Cornwall, where they have several engagements at the Riverside Church.

Then on Tuesday, June 3, they will be taking to the stage at the Llanyravon Church, and on Monday, June 9, they will be entertaining the older people at the St Julian's Senior Citizens' Club.

They already have engagements booked up to the end of the year, including one at St David's Hall in Cardiff.

All proceeds from their concerts go to their selected charities. From personal experience, I know what a great time these ladies have during their rehearsals and concert appearance,s so, any of you ladies out there, if you would like to join them, then do not hesitate. You will be made more than welcome.

RED STRIPES ACROSS THE ROADS: I do not know whether you have noticed a recent welcome addition to the appearance of the roads in the town centre.

Every pedestrian crossing has been marked out by a striking red paint.

Well, to be honest, it isn't really a bright crimson colour, but my heading saying Light Pink Stripes' would not have had the same impact.

I presume that it is some sort of anti-slip paint, rather like that which has been introduced to give motorcars more grip as they approach roundabouts, particularly on a slope.

The colour on the pedestrian crossings in town has certainly brightened it up. I just wonder whether the council have any tins left over, so that they could cover up those cobble stones in George Street and make them less slippery for shoppers.

PONTYPOOL RFC FLOODLIGHTING - PART 2: My mention of these recent additions to the facilities in the park certainly caused a stir; I said that they had been paid for by Torfaen County Borough Council, but I was speedily corrected.

On the evening of the publication of that issue of Grassroots, I had a phone call from a Community Councillor who protested that their organisation had contributed to the cost.

The following day another Com-munity Council confirmed that they had in fact played their part in the upgrading of those lights, which are so essential to evening events in the Park, not just for the rugby club, but also for things like the Rotary Club's Fireworks Display.

Later in the week I received a letter from David Evans, who is the team leader of the Pontypool Regeneration Partnership. He said that the Partnership was asked to consider supporting the modernisation of the lights.

Bearing in mind the urgency of the issue, they responded by agreeing to contribute £15,000 immediately towards the cost of the floodlighting, recognising the benefits that Premiership rugby status could have for the club and the town.

The Pontypool Regeneration Partnership is supported by Torfaen CBC and the Pontypool Community Council, each of which contribute £50,000 a year to support regeneration activity in the town.

The membership consists of representatives of the two bodies, as well as from the business and local community.

I have not heard the total cost of the lights, but I imagine that it would be much more than the £15,000 supplied by the Regeneration Partnership.

I did hear that there were large contributions made by the local TCBC Councillors from the monies that they have which they can spend on what they decide.

I think it used to be called the "Halfpenny Rate," but that, as you can tell from the wording, was a long time ago.

COUNTY HOSPITAL LEAGUE OF FRIENDS: This organisation recently held its Annual General Meeting, and there were a number of changes at the top. They have elected new officers, and others have changed position.

The new chairman is Kath Evans, her vice-chairman is Noel Young MBE, the secretary will be Jean Gould, and the treasure is, Jill Pearce. The Public Relations and Fundraising Officer is still Elane Thomas.

They have formed quite a strong committee, which includes June Grant, Mary Poulsom, Angela Kenyon-Jackson and Brian Preece.

After a successful latter part of 2007 they are aiming to continue their good works.

At the moment, the trolley service goes around the wards on three mornings a week. They would like to extend this to cover the full week, so if any reader would like to help, would you like to get in touch with Elaine Thomas, at Ladies' Fashions 15 Windsor Road, Griffithstown, or ring Kath Evans, on 01633 485691.

They are planning to hold a Tea Dance either in the Trosnant or Griffithstown areas some time in June, and again if anyone could help them in any way with this event, please contact them at the above number.

They welcome any suggestions for fundraising events or offers to help out in any way. Their last fundraising event was a sponsored head shave, which raised £252.

They would like to express their sincere thanks to hospital porter John Wedlock and his friends for taking part.

The group's next meeting will be held on Monday, April 7, at 3pm, in the hospital's recreation room. The chairman will extend a sincere welcome to all who attend.